Principal Liz has the bit between her teeth

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A PICTURE on the wall of Liz Philip’s office at Askham Bryan College gives you the first clue about something that has always been her passion.

It shows her taking a fence on a horse she evented called Springdale. In another photograph she is seen winning the Badsworth Hunt Farmers’ Cup point-to-point.

Mention an equestrian discipline and Liz Philip has probably done it. Show-jumping, eventing, team chasing and point-to-point riding. She has also ridden in East Yorkshire’s famous Kiplingcotes Derby.

Would-be equestrian students at Askham Bryan take note, the principal will be very interested in your progress and is not short of knowledge on the subject. A farmer’s daughter with a background in agricultural studies, she became principal at the college in 2007. “I’ve also had great fun playing with ponies and developing the facilities,” she say.

The college has so far spent £1.2m on improving the equestrian centre’s facilities, which include an indoor and outdoor school and a cross-country training course.

A small yard with 20 boxes has been expanded and can now take 42 horses.

Courses range from practically based NVQs up to BSc level and BHSI qualifications.

“It’s a great industry to work in and now that the rural community understand the value of the leisure industry, there are some great opportunities,” says Liz.

Students go on to work as grooms, to run riding schools and livery yards, to work as instructors, in racing yards, veterinary practices and in country stores.

Students from the college compete regularly, some using college horses and some on their own horses.

They include 19-year-old Flo Plummer, from Copmanthorpe, who has been selected for the Under -21’s dressage squad this year riding Aisha R, a horse trained and broken at the college.

Members of staff all have competition experience in various disciplines.

The horses range from steady, confidence-giving cobs to some top-quality competion horses.

Liz has ridden most of them and enjoys a regular Sunday morning hack over college land. “We ran our first horse trials here last year – the college farm just screamed out for it,” said Liz.

The event attracted 240 competitors and over 1,000 spectators. Now there are plans to run both a Spring and an autumn event and to move up to intermediate level.

The college is ideally placed, just off the A64 and close to the A1, and there is the potential to develop a competition venue and possibly a retail outlet. Something else which is on Liz Philip’s “to do” list.

The centre already organises regular clinics with guest speakers and an annual equine conference. New courses planned include one on event management – how to run equestrian events – and another which will deal with the care of competition horses.

After a look around the stables and at a lesson that is taking place in the indoor school, Liz Philip heads back to her office. There are more plans afoot for the equestrian centre and you might say she has the bit between her teeth...

For more information about Askham Bryan College go to www.askham-bryan.ac.uk.

THE Yorkshire Exmoor Pony Trust is holding an open day today at Hovingham village hall. There will be displays about conservation grazing and the chance to meet an an Exmoor pony, as well as stalls and refreshments. The first part of the day is by invitation only, then all visitors are welcome between 2.0pm and 4.0pm. For more information about the trust go to www.yept.webs.com.

DON’T forget our equestrian diary/wall chart will be appearing in Country Week on April 2. If you would like your show to be included, please call our equestrian team on 0113 245 4860.

Over 100 entries as new Whitcliffe Grange course points the way

AFTER two abandoned meetings last year due to bad weather, the first point-to-point takes place tomorrow at Yorkshire’s newest course, Whitcliffe Grange near Ripon.

The grass gallop was used for many years by the late Peter Calver and after his death Whitcliffe Grange was used as a satellite yard by Mark Johnston before he expanded his base in Middleham.

There are 118 entries for tomorrow’s seven-race card with the maiden race being divided.

The PRORA Club Members’ race for novice riders has 18 entries and Stagecoach Diamond, who was second in a Catterick Hunter Chase, could do well.

THE equine section is an important part of the Great Yorkshire Show (July12-14) and includes a number of qualifying classes for the Horse of the Year Show.

This year for the first time, the champion in the Mountain & Moorland Ridden section will go forward to HOYS and so will the winner of the Maxi Cob class. Both clases are held on the Wednesday.

The Ripon Select Foods Cock o’ the North Championship, the highlight of the show-jumping schedule at the show, has more prize money this year when the winner will take home £8,000, an increase of £1,000 on last year.

A new feature is a Mini Major competition where experienced riders will be paired with youngsters to compete over a series of jumps in the main ring.

KATIE STEPHENS, a young horse producer and Pony Club instructor from West Heslerton, Malton, proved unbeatable at the Bishop Burton Jump Training day.

She won the senior BE80, BE90 and BE100 classes on Nadrageel Two to Go, Some Operator and Diamond Rebellion, respectively.

“It’s the most fantastic training opportunity,” said Katie. “It’s just perfect for young horses to build their confidence under no pressure. Nadrageel Two to Go is only recently backed and it was her first time away from home, while for Some Operator, he’s a very green and spooky 17hh horse who I could feel develop and settle throughout the day.”

The junior sections were won by Ted Foster, Claudia Hill and Annabel Cole.